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Don’t be an Asshole Abolitionist

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*Please note, this essay is satire*

Dedicated to those folks who have ample access and choice when it comes to veganism, but who defend their nonvegan choices with claims of how purity puts people off. 

Let’s face it, folks: veganism is really difficult for the vast majority of people. It’s okay if you’re an Abolitionist who can live on fresh air and expensive filtered water, but what about the rest of us? I mean, there’s practically nothing for us to eat. I’ve known people who have gone out to eat in restaurants and have been limited in choice to salad, rice and vegetables, baked potato and vegetables, soup, stir fry, pasta, vegetable stew or tagine, or risotto. I mean, these places don’t even serve wheat gluten formed into the shape of a breaded animal part, or anything that replicates the taste of fish, so how are we actually supposed to enjoy ourselves?

In the same way that some nonvegans simply can’t live without cheese, some vegans simply can’t live without cookies, bread, or chips. And, since the original definition of veganism extends to what is practicable and possible, for some folks it just isn’t practicable or possible not to eat a cookie containing sugar processed with bone char, or bread containing hair or feathers, or chips that have been fried in the same oil as animals’ dead bodies.

Here are some tips:

* Never refuse a cookie, even if you’re not sure of the ingredients. The rule that non-judgemental, non-purist vegans live by is “if you can’t see an animal product in it, then there’s no animal product in it.” Sure, that cookie could be made of minced lambs and chickens, and bound with unpasteurised cheese, but if you can’t see it it’s as good as not eating it. Nonvegans already think of veganism as difficult. If we say “no thank you” to a cookie that they offer us, then they will immediately assume that we don’t want the cookie because it contains sugar processed with bone char, and they will at once conclude that veganism is difficult. Now, there may be lots of reasons why nonvegan people say no to cookies: they don’t like cookies; they like cookies but they don’t like those cookies; they’ve had too many cookies already; they have no tea in which to dip their cookies; they are about to go on a hot date and don’t want raisin breath; they can’t get the packet open and so stare sadly at said cookies for several hours; they just don’t want a bloody cookie! But when you’re a vegan, you must accept the cookies. Always. NEVER say no to cookies. Nonvegans don’t like vegans who say no to cookies.

* When you’re in a restaurant that serves a vegan burger, don’t double-check that the bun is animal-product free. It makes you look fussy if you’re insisting that everything on your plate has to be vegan. Just one or two things will do: after all, the bun is already made, so you’re not adding to demand. Of course, you could choose something else on the menu that you’re sure doesn’t contain animal products, like an undressed salad with vinegar, or a plain baked potato with some steamed vegetables, but you’d have to pretend you actually enjoyed eating that. And who enjoys eating salad? Everyone knows salad=suffering. Only eat foods that don’t look like vegetables: remember, your veganism is entirely for the benefit of the nonvegan gaze, and if they see you doing veganny things, then this will put them off.

* If you are in the middle of a crowded city centre, and you get the urge for chips, have those chips. Who cares if the chips have been fried in oil that has batch after batch of dead animals’ body parts fried in it all day? Who cares if those dead animal parts are clinging to your chips? Chips are more important than ethical principles, and you don’t want to appear to be one of those vegans. Gosh, if you start refusing chips that have been cooked with dead animals, then you’ll have to stop walking on the pavement because you might kill an ant.

Remember, folks, ethical principles mean nothing. And when it comes time for you to advocate veganism to a friend, remind yourself to create the kind of veganism that would most appeal to them: after all, it’s not about not consuming animal products, or using animals in other ways; it’s all about looking like you’re having a great time. Practicable and possible: don’t check Barnivore; have dairy milk in your coffee if the café doesn’t have soy; and never refuse a cookie. The more you make veganism look like nonveganism, the more the animals will thank you.

Veganism is, above all, a matter of justice. If the right of animals not to be treated as a means to our ends means anything to us, then we must behave in a way that demonstrates that to be true. Refusing to eat something that contains animal products is no more difficult than refusing to eat a chicken’s leg. Embrace veganism as the least we owe to nonhuman animals. Visit www.HowDoIGoVegan.com and www.AbolitionistApproach.com to learn more.

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  • J Sanjay

    Beautifully written. Okay, there is nothing wrong with being nice. And there is not much wrong in going to a non vegan place and ordering vegan food to make veganism look easy. But for fuck’s sake, don’t dilute it to the point where you’re not even a vegan anymore.

    • Frances McCormack

      Thank you for your kind words. Don’t dilute it at all, in fact! 🙂

  • Rachel Brookhart

    This is hysterical. “NEVER say no to cookies!” I know I don’t. I’m not vegan, but I did just eat the crap out of a vegan cookie. And I totally enjoyed myself. Love me some Maxine’s Heavenly cookies. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/63ac39b8d47fbfa25ae5cf3f42609e6668db9c6e5b511ce991b405cea15bcddf.jpg

    • Frances McCormack

      I need to know what was in that bowl! Did you have cookies and soup? Oh my! Yum!

  • Emilia Leese

    or tagine! ahahahahaahahahaha. This was very funny.

    • Frances McCormack

      Emilia, I’ve just discovered the best tagine recipe! I will send it to you. It’s soooooo good!

  • Dylan Wentworth

    Thanks, your cookies look delicious but I can’t have the cookie due to allergies.

    That, and the thought of eating chicken periods and bovine mammory secretions kinda makes me not hungry anymore. Especially if there’s any bee vomit in it.
    Not sure if that makes me an abolitionist or a germophobe.

    • Frances McCormack

      “Thanks for the offer! You’re so kind. But I’m vegan and these have animal products in, so I won’t have one. But thanks again!”

      • Dylan Wentworth

        Yeah but that’s being so abolitioney. And then you end up in lecture mode.
        Not once have I ever got any second offer after telling someone that “I can’t due to allergies.”

        It’s quite possibly the best excuse ever for getting out of a wide range of things that you don’t want to do.

        • Frances McCormack

          I perceive “being so abolitioney” to be a good thing. 🙂

          “Nah, sorry. Can’t participate in your racist micro-aggressions because I’m allergic.” “No, I don’t want to perpetuate rape culture because I’m allergic.”

          I think it’s much better to be clear about the moral issue: it gives you the opportunity to educate. The number of conversations that I’ve had as a result of simple little encounters like this. And people are *so* sweet: I’ve turned up at places to find a little vegan cake baked especially for me (and only ending up with the crumbs because the nonvegans were initially curious about it and then realised it tasted so great!) or being specially catered to at work events. I was invited to a colleague’s birthday bash, and I phoned the restaurant just to let them know I was vegan, and they told me that they already knew and had a range of options available for me. Quite a while at the dinner was spent talking about veganism, and not at my initiation; people were curious. I gave a paper at a conference recently, and there were vegan truffles and the most gorgeous vegan cupcake there for me! People are generally really happy not only to cater for me without my asking, but also to talk to me about veganism.

          “No thanks! I’m vegan, and these particular ones aren’t suitable” works really well! It’s clear, it’s unapologetic, and it’s giving people the opportunity to ask further questions if they’re interested…

          • Dylan Wentworth

            1a.) Are those W3C validated HTML6 tags?

            1b.) I didn’t say to use the phrase “I’m allergic.”
            I said to use the phrase “due to allergies.”

            I don’t want to prompt someone to follow up with any questions or box myself into a corner with any specificity.

            Sort of like canceling something “due to the weather” vs “due to rain.” You’re covered no matter the weather.

            2.) I don’t always (or hardly ever) have time to educate, nor does the other party I’m dealing with typically have any interest in being educated. I’ve found that many people are not receptive and when you start giving them facts, they go into all the psychological reassurances and that’s where things get ugly.

            3.) People are so sweet?!?
            Um yeah. That hasn’t been my finding.

            Thank you for doing what you’re doing. That’s great that you have found very receptive people that you can educate. Some people can be very effective and persuasive on veganism. I don’t consider myself to be one of those people but I can still do my part by being vegan. Hopefully I’m not obliged nor expected to be an educator every time I want to turn down someone for some sweets that I shouldn’t be eating anyway. As you can tell, I make a much better slimy weasel than an educator.

            When I go to a restaurant that isn’t vegan or vegetarian, I find it much easier to tell the server that I don’t want any dairy, eggs, or whatever, due to allergies than have to assume they know what eff a Vegan is as I have found out they usually don’t know what that means. They seem to take the allergy thing seriously and there are no followup questions which saves time so I can get back to spending time with whoever dragged me to that restaurant in the first place.

    • Lola Twinkle

      You eat plant ovaries….whats the difference?

      • Dylan Wentworth

        The difference between what?

  • End Animal Use

    Kind of funny in a sarcastic way, but I wonder why the term “Abolitionist” was used? The qualities of not using animals is simply vegan. The article could/should have been titled “Don’t be an Asshole Vegan”. And really, why “asshole”? Something marginally homophobic there, I think.

    Equating veganism with abolitionism… why? If, as was said by many early vegan advocates, veganism means ending animal use, and pushing for the end of animal use and rejection of any sort of “welfare” that involves use, then vegan means abolitionist in some sense, and certainly Cross, Dinshah and others used the term in the 1950s, But though vegan should mean people involved in a social movement to end animal use, the Francione attempt to make that word personal property means that many people don’t see “abolitionist” as simply synonymous with “vegan”. So when a lot of people talk about “Abolitionist Assholes” they don’t mean vegans, they mean people whose major focus seems to be an attempt to make veganism their personal turf, and to attack anyone who doesn’t follow their Facebook page. including those who any reasonable person would consider to be strong and unequivocal advocates of the abolition of animal use.

    • Frances McCormack

      >>Something marginally homophobic there<<

      Something extremely heteronormative in your ideas about sex there. Educate yourself, otherwise you're likely to be perpetuating the very thing that you're claiming to be in opposition to.

      Sorry, but after that tosh, I didn't bother reading any further. Thanks for commenting though.

      • End Animal Use

        As an English scholar, I’m sure you know that common insults are vernacular statements that often reflect societal norms and prejudice. While “Asshole” has other, perhaps stronger implications than the homophobic ones, the element of homophobia also exists within it, which is why I used “marginally”. If you are going for the general sexual, general social sex-negativity may also be a factor. Note, my pointing out this implication in a common invective term doesn’t mean I subscribe to the notion that anal sex is necessarily or exclusively involves gay men. That is, however, a common view expressed in insult. 😉

        • Frances McCormack

          >>While “Asshole” has other, perhaps stronger implications than the homophobic ones, the element of homophobia also exists within it<>I’m sure you know that common insults are vernacular statements that often reflect societal norms and prejudice.<< Some can be, but a significant number have to do with body parts and bodily functions. I would list them here for you, but I'm afraid the comment wouldn't get posted.

          • Gary Francione

            I am not a linguist, and I am most certainly not a sociologist, but I am quite amazed to see the claim that “asshole” has any sort of homophobic connotation. Indeed, I would imagine that, for “asshole” to have any sort of homophobic connotation, it would have to be used in a context that would render its use superfluous. Indeed, as you point out, it would appear as heteronormative to ascribe that connotation to the word itself. Moreover, I note that at least some of those who claim to be be spokespersons for the “intersectional” position use “asshole” when taking about abolitionist vegans. Since I assume that they would not use words with any homophobic connotation, that reinforces my conclusion that it is simply wrong to claim that “asshole” has any homophobic meaning–marginal or otherwise. All that said, I don’t think it very nice to call someone an “asshole.”

            As a general matter, it seems that, in the “animal movement,” there’s a great deal of linguistic confusion. For example, I have seen it claimed that it is “racist” for someone other than a Black person to use “abolition.” Putting aside the many other problems with such a claim, it ignores that “abolition” has been used historically in many contexts involving claims that certain practices violated fundamental rights, such as capital punishment, child labor, etc., and it also ignores the historical fact that slavery has existed for thousands of years, and has not always been race-based.

            But as I said, I am neither a linguist nor a sociologist.

            Gary L. Francione
            Professor, Rutgers University

    • Gary Francione

      Thanks so much for your interest in the Abolitionist Approach. I always welcome and appreciate opportunities to explain how Abolition is different from other approaches to animal ethics. I responded but as a statement addressed to all.

      Gary L. Francione
      Professor, Rutgers University

  • Gary Francione

    Dear All:

    I want to thank “End Animal Use” for their question. I am always grateful for an opportunity to educate people about the Abolitionist Approach.

    The Abolitionist Approach is a comprehensive ethical theory embodying six core ideas:

    1. The property status of nonhumans is inconsistent with a recognition of their moral value. If animals are to have moral value, they must be recognized as holding a basic, pre-legal moral right not to be property.

    2. Welfare-reform campaigns and single-issue campaigns are morally objectionable as they promote animal exploitation, and, because animals are chattel property, regulatory efforts will, for the most part, do little more than ensure economically efficient exploitation.

    3. Veganism is a moral imperative and a necessary consequence of recognizing that animals have moral value.

    4. Sentience is the only cognitive characteristic that is necessary and sufficient for full moral personhood. The Abolitionist Approach rejects the idea that self-awareness or preference autonomy is required for personhood status.

    5. There is an extricable relationship between the otherization of nonhumans based on species, and the otherization of humans based on race, sex, gender, class, etc., and all forms of otherization are morally objectionable.

    6. Violence is the problem and cannot form any part of the solution.

    So, as you can see, the Abolitionist Approach is not just about veganism. Although others have certainly talked about veganism, as far as I am aware, no other approach has presented a theory that combined all of these ideas, including identifying the problems of the property status of animals, and the resulting structural inadequacies of welfare-reform campaigns and single-issue campaigns, which have historically been, and continue to be, the focus of most animal advocacy. Indeed, the property theory that is the basis of the Abolitionist Approach, and of its critique of welfare-reform campaigns and single-issue campaigns, was described by Tom Regan, author of “The Case for Animal Rights,” as “of unquestionable historic importance the likes of which the world of ideas has never seen before.”

    I invite you all to join us at our Facebook page, Animal Rights: he Abolitionist Approach, if you would like to learn more.

    Gary L. Francione
    Professor, Rutgers University

  • Lola Twinkle

    if you really want people to go vegan you can quit with this superior approach, stop nagging and start giving do-able alternatives….No one is going to listen to you if all you do is get aggressive(actively or passively). Some of the greatest animal rights advocates are NOT VEGAN. By being such a bunch of old nags you only drive people away…

    • Alan O’Reilly

      First, you’ve obviously completely missed the point of this satirical piece. Second, “nonvegan animal rights advocate” is an oxymoron.

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